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Home » Recent News » Musicians’ Residuals for Union Film Scoring Reaches All-Time High

Musicians’ Residuals for Union Film Scoring Reaches All-Time High

  -  Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) Executive Director

The Film Musicians Secondary Markets Fund (FMSMF) broke another record in residuals collected for musicians during the fiscal year that ended March 31, 2023. Total collections for fiscal year 2023 exceeded $141 million—surpassing the previous record of just over $130 million in 2022. On June 30, FMSMF processed payments for approximately 18,000 musicians and beneficiaries as part of its FY2023 annual distribution.

The record-setting collections in 2023 could not have come at a more critical time. As I write this article, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA are on strike to resolve fair contracts for their members. As a result, film and television production has slowed, and therefore, scoring work opportunities for musicians have declined. Like the COVID shutdown in 2020, these current events remind us that secondary market residuals, collected and distributed by the FMSMF, are indispensable to providing financial security for working musicians. They serve as a critical economic lifeline through challenging times in an uncertain business.

Given the importance of residuals to working musicians as streaming markets and business models evolve, the fund will monitor AFM negotiations as it bargains to achieve fair contracts with the motion picture and television producers for the Basic Theatrical and Television agreements that expire in November and the Television Videotape Agreement, set to expire in December.

New Titles

New titles are titles paying into FMSMF for the first time. After a sharp decline in new titles reported during 2022—which appeared to be the trailing result of the pandemic slowdown in 2020—more than 220 new titles paid into the fund during FY2023. Most of these titles were films or series first released in their primary market in 2021 or 2022. However, a few older films and series paid secondary market residuals for the first time during this fiscal year.

New titles for FY2023 included feature films such as Bros, Elvis, Encanto, West Side Story (2021), and Spiderman: No Way Home and series/mini-series such as American Horror Story (season 10), Black-ish (season 8), The Cleaning Lady (season 1), and Star Trek: Discovery (season 4). FMSMF counts an entire season of a multi-episode series as a single title. A complete list of the FY2023 new titles is available on the fund website at

Investing in the Future

The fund’s mission includes supporting the film and television music community and FMSMF prioritizes educational activities in fulfilling that mission. In particular, the fund focuses on educating the next generation of musicians, composers, and filmmakers about working with professional musicians and under AFM agreements.

In partnership with Society of Composers and Lyricists, ASCAP, Alliance for Women Film Composers, Composers Diversity Collective, and other organizations, FMSMF is co-sponsoring a career symposium September 30. This initial mentorship program will be held at Vanderbilt University in Nashville and is designed to bring together accomplished composers, musicians, songwriters, and industry leaders to mentor students at local colleges who are working toward careers in the music industry. The fund will also sponsor a panel in partnership with SAGindie on November 2 at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, focusing on securing professional talent for indie and low-budget films.

After a three-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, FMSMF was pleased to co-sponsor the Columbia University Film Scoring Workshop in New York again. This workshop, co-sponsored with ASCAP and with additional support from Local 802 (New York City), provides a unique opportunity for student filmmakers at the University’s School of the Arts to experience the film scoring process, from hiring a composer to mixing the original score recorded by Local 802’s professional musicians.

Keeping You Informed

I was honored to address delegates at the AFM’s 102nd Convention and report on the fund’s activities and outlook for the future. FMSMF COO Brian Sickles and I joined the delegates in acknowledging retiring AFM President Ray Hair, Vice President Bruce Fife, and Secretary-Treasurer Jay Blumenthal. We congratulate newly elected President Tino Gagliardi and look forward to working with him and his administration to support AFM members in the years ahead.

We continue to expand opportunities to present educational webinars for AFM members through Zoom on topics such as “Understanding Residuals” and “How to Prepare for the Annual Residual Distribution.” Check the FMSMF Facebook page later this year for information on future programs.

FMSMF continues to provide information to participants via FMSMF’s e-newsletter Music Notes, which we email to participants several times a year. If you are a fund participant, we hope you will subscribe to Music Notes. Whether or not you are a participant, we hope you’ll keep current on FMSMF activities by following us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube!

Secondary Market Residuals Contribution Sources 2011-2023

Secondary Market Residuals Contribution Sources 2011-2023
This chart shows the increase in residuals collected by FMSMF each fiscal year since 2011. Residuals generated from the release of traditional films and television programs into New Media (red), particularly streaming services, have been the major drivers of the increase between 2011 and 2023.

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